Scoliosis can lead to severe disruption of life functions if not treated at the correct time. But can Scoliosis kill you? We answer this question in detail
Many of my readers ask me can Scoliosis kill you? The answer is no; Scoliosis doesn’t usually kill anyone. But this in itself is not a sufficient answer to your question. I decided to go more in-depth into this topic.
If a person has Scoliosis and doesn’t do the treatment properly, then the curvature of the spine progresses, and the doctor may advise you for spinal surgery, which is major surgery.
There is always a risk of death in surgery, but the chances are less than 1 percent. In most cases, the surgery is successful. However, the exact reason for the death of a patient after Scoliosis surgery is still unknown. It depends on various factors like age of the patient, complication of the spinal cord, other ailments excluding Scoliosis, and numerous others.
This article discusses more about Scoliosis and its effect on adolescents. So, continue reading this article for more information.
What Is Scoliosis?
Your spine is also known as the backbone. But the backbone does not consist of one bone. It consists of numerous bones called vertebrae connected by an elastic tissue called cartilage, which is responsible for people’s flexibility in bending, stretching, balancing, and walking.
But when a person has Scoliosis, the spinal cord, instead of being straight, becomes curved like the shape C or S . Small curves don’t create many problems in people. But when the curve becomes worse, it can damage the joints or cause arthritis on joints. People of all ages, including infants and kids, can also have Scoliosis.
You might like to read: How To Sleep With Scoliosis
What Will Happen If You Leave Scoliosis Untreated In Adolescence?
The most common Scoliosis diagnosed in adolescents between ages 10 to 18 is idiopathic Scoliosis, in which the cause of the ailment is not precisely known. However, some say that idiopathic Scoliosis runs from your family, but the researchers have not confirmed it.
It’s tough for parents to detect the mild and moderate forms of Scoliosis in their children. You cannot observe any physical changes like the difference in the height of the shoulder or uneven hip lines or waistlines in the mild and moderate stage of Scoliosis because your child is in the developmental stage. The spinal cord of your child is still developing.
Again, Scoliosis is not as painful in the mild and moderate stages. So a child does not complain about backache. This is why Scoliosis is often left undiagnosed until a child has his proper skeletal maturity.
Even if Scoliosis is undiagnosed or not treated in time, it is not going to kill you. Your child will continue his life without being aware of abnormal curvature and rotation of his spinal cord until the ailment has progressed enough to produce symptoms such as changes in posture or backache.
What Will Happen If Adults With Scoliosis Are Left Untreated?
The two main differences between idiopathic Scoliosis in adolescents and adults are pain and progression.
Adolescent with Scoliosis gets their skeletal maturity in adulthood. This is when they can notice physical changes in his body, like uneven hips and shoulder lines. They may have severe back pain.
The spinal cord neither grows nor lengthens in adults, but the surrounding muscles and nerves in the spinal cord start to feel the effect of compression because of abnormal curvatures like C or S.
If adults with Scoliosis are not treated after noticing physical changes in the body, even then, Scoliosis will not kill you. But it will continue to progress unevenly. However, the rate of progression in adulthood is slower in comparison to adolescents.
Well, let me tell you very frankly that even if the progression of Scoliosis slows down, the cumulative effect can be dangerous if left untreated. The patient will have lifetime back pain and limited mobility. So they cannot do their daily work without assistance.
Now let’s talk about type 2 Scoliosis, i.e., Adult degenerative Scoliosis (ADA). In this case, the spinal disc starts to get damaged and finally leads to full-blown Scoliosis. ADA will cause intense back pain, changes in height and posture.
In most patients, ADA is diagnosed when the curvature of the spine reaches 30 degrees. But if you don’t treat ADA even at that stage, Scoliosis will not kill you.
But the condition can become very severe. The curvature can increase by almost 0.5 to 3 degrees each year. So after a few years, the curvature of the spine will be huge, and the doctor may recommend you for surgery.
Extreme Forms Of Scoliosis
An extreme form of Scoliosis happens when the curvature in adults becomes 50-55 degrees and 40-45 degrees in adolescents.
If you don’t treat extreme forms of Scoliosis, the curvature may become more than 90 degrees, and you may suffer from severe problems in the lungs and heart. So you need to take the extreme form of Scoliosis seriously.
Most researchers say that wearing braces is not that effective in treating an extreme form of Scoliosis. The doctor may advise you for surgery. But spinal surgery comes with various complications like infection and death.
An example of an extreme form of Scoliosis is NeuroMuscular Scoliosis which is rarely seen in adults. In this ailment, there is a disconnection of muscles of your spine and the brain.
The person who has neuromuscular Scoliosis may also have secondary complications like spina bifida, cerebral palsy, and various others, which can be life-threatening.
Can You Die From Scoliosis?
A curved spinal cord will not directly cause death. However, various secondary risks may sometimes occur due to Scoliosis, which can result in death.
#1. Lung And Heart Function
When a person suffers from a severe form of Scoliosis, i.e., the curvature becomes 100 degrees or above, it affects the lungs and heart.
It reduces the oxygen circulation, restricts the function of the lungs, damages the tissues in the lungs and heart. The symptoms get worse with age and may finally cause sudden death with no warning.
When the curvature of the spinal cord becomes more than 40-45-degree the doctor asks you for surgery so that the curvature will not progress further. In surgery, the surgeon tries to straighten the spinal cord with rods and screws.
Sometimes, the surgeon puts a bone graft to join the spinal cord bones together so that the curvature will not worsen with time.
After a few years, the bones will be fused, and taking out the rods is not essential. However, if one wants to take out the rod, then you have to do another surgery. But unfortunately, spinal fusion surgery comes with some risks and complications. They are as follows.
- Excess blood loss
- Nerve damage
Death in spinal surgery is rare. The incidence of death after the major surgery is less than 1 percent, but the risk is higher in old patients.
You might like to read: How Tall Would I Be Without Scoliosis
Frequently Asked Questions
#1. Does Scoliosis shorten your life?
Most people suffering from mild to moderate Scoliosis are leading a healthy life, and their life expectancy is relatively normal.
#2. What are the dangers of Scoliosis?
- Breathing problem
- Low self-esteem
- Continuous pain if there is wear and tear of bones in the spinal cord
- Nerve damage because of curvature of spinal cord
- Spine infection after surgery
#3. What should I avoid if I have Scoliosis?
A person who has Scoliosis should avoid bending their neck so that the head faces down (mainly while using your smartphone). Again they should avoid playing games like football. Ballet and gymnastics are also not suitable for people with Scoliosis. It can damage their thoracic spine.
#4. Can Scoliosis be cured?
There is no medicine for curing Scoliosis. However, you can reduce the symptoms if diagnosed in the early stages and treated with proper care.
#5. How does Scoliosis affect the brain?
Scoliosis disrupts the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in your brain, which can cause severe headaches, and this headache may develop into a migraine in the future.
When you view the spinal cord of a normal person from behind then, it appears straight. But if a person has Scoliosis is viewed in the same manner, it will appear curved.
The curved spinal cord creates a problem for an individual while sitting for a long time, standing, and doing his routine work. Sometimes this disease occurs when a baby is in the mother’s womb, while it may occur in others because of genes.
Scoliosis worsens with time. You may have severe pain in your back, hips, legs, and feet because of excess curvature of the spinal cord or uneven shoulder line and waistline. But Scoliosis alone will not kill you.
However, when the curvature becomes nearer to 100 degrees, you will have a problem in breathing. The tissue of the lungs and heart will get damaged, which may lead to sudden death.
I hope this article is informative and please don’t forget to share your suggestions for this article. I would love to read suggestions in the comment section.